Peregrine, who, “though humorous as winter, had a tear for pity, and a hand open as day for melting charity,” was shocked at the nature and result of this ungenerous consultation. He contributed his half-crown, however, and, retiring from the company, betook himself to the lodgings of the forlorn lady in the straw, according to the direction he had heard. Upon inquiry, he understood that she was then visited by some charitable gentlewoman, who had sent for a nurse, and waited the return of the messenger; and he sent up his respects, desiring he might be permitted to see her, on pretence of having been intimate with her late husband. Though the poor woman had never heard of his name, she did new balance 996 not think proper to deny his request; and he was conducted to a paltry chamber in the third story, where he found this unhappy widow sitting upon a truckle-bed, and suckling one of her infants, with the most piteous expression of anguish in her features, which were naturally regular and sweet, while the other was fondled on the knee of a person, whose attention was so much engrossed by her little charge, that, for the present, she could mind nothing else; and it was not till after the first compliments passed betwixt the hapless mother and our adventurer, that he perceived the stranger’s countenance, which inspired him with the highest esteem and admiration. He beheld all the graces of elegance and beauty, breathing sentiment and beneficence, and softened into the most enchanting tenderness of weeping sympathy. When he declared the cause of his visit, which was no other than the desire of befriending the distressed lady, to whom he presented a bank-note for twenty pounds, he was favoured with such a look of complacency by this amiable phantom, who might have been justly taken for an angel ministering to the necessities of mortals, that his whole soul was transported with love and veneration. Nor was this prepossession diminished by the information of the widow, who, after having manifested her gratitude in a flood of tears, told him, that the unknown object of his esteem was a person of honour, who having heard by accident of her deplorable situation, had immediately obeyed the dictates of her humanity, new balance 991 and come in person to relieve her distress; that she had not only generously supplied her with money for present sustenance, but also undertaken to provide a nurse for her babes, and even promised to favour her with protection, should she survive her present melancholy situation. To these articles of intelligence she added, that the name of her benefactress was the celebrated Lady —, to whose character the youth was no stranger, though he had never seen her person before. The killing edge of her charms was a little blunted by the accidents of time and fortune; but no man of taste and imagination, whose nerves were not quite chilled with the frost of age, could, even at that time, look upon her with impunity. And as Peregrine saw her attractions heightened by the tender office in which she was engaged, he was smitten with her beauty, and so ravished with her compassion, that he could not suppress his emotions, but applauded her benevolence with all the warmth of enthusiasm. Her ladyship received his compliments with great politeness and affability. And the occasion on which they met being equally interesting to both, an acquaintance commenced between them, and they concerted measures for the benefit of the widow and her two children, one of whom our hero bespoke for his own godson; for Pickle was not so obscure in the beau monde, but that his fame had reached the ears of this lady, who, therefore, did not discourage his advances towards her friendship and esteem. All the particulars relating to their charge being adjusted, he attended her ladyship to her own house; and, by her conversation, had the pleasure of finding her understanding suitable to her other accomplishments. Nor had she any reason to think that our hero’s qualifications had been exaggerated by common report. One of their adopted children died before it was baptized; so that their care concentred in the other, for whom they stood sponsors. Understanding that the old agent was becoming troublesome in his visits to the mother, to whom he now began to administer such counsel as shocked the delicacy of her virtue, they removed her into another lodging, where she would not be exposed to his machinations. In less than a month, our hero new balances learned from a nobleman of his acquaintance, that the hoary pander had actually engaged to procure for him this poor afflicted gentlewoman; and, being frustrated in his intention, substituted in her room a nymph from the purlieus of Covent Garden, that made his lordship smart severely for the favours she bestowed. Meanwhile, Peregrine cultivated his new acquaintance with all his art and assiduity, presuming, from the circumstances of her reputation and fate, as well as on the strength of his own merit, that, in time, he should be able to indulge that passion which had begun to glow within his breast. As her ladyship had undergone a vast variety of fortune and adventure, which he had heard indistinctly related, with numberless errors and misrepresentations, he was no sooner entitled, by the familiarity of communication, to ask such a favour, than he earnestly entreated her to entertain him with the particulars of her story; and, by dint of importunity, she was at length prevailed upon, in a select party, to gratify his curiosity, by the account given in the following chapter. “By the circumstances of the story which I am going to relate, you will be convinced of my candour, while you are informed of my indiscretion. You will be enabled, I hope, to perceive, that, howsoever my head may have erred, my heart hath always been uncorrupted, and that I have been unhappy, because I loved, and was a woman. “I believe I need not observe, that I was the only child of a man of good fortune, who indulged me in my infancy with all the tenderness of paternal affection; and, when I was six years old, sent me to a private school, where I stayed till my age was doubled, and became such a favourite, that I was, even in those early days, carried to all the places of public diversion, the court itself not excepted, an indulgence that flattered my love of pleasure, to which I was naturally addicted, and encouraged those ideas of vanity and ambition which spring up so early in the human mind. “I was lively and good-natured, my imagination apt to run riot, my heart liberal and disinterested, though I was so obstinately attached to my own opinions, that I could not well brook contradiction; and, in the whole of my new balance uk disposition, resembled that of Henry V., as described by Shakespeare. “In my thirteenth year I went to Bath, where I was first introduced into the world as a woman, having been entitled to that privilege by my person, which was remarkably tall for my years; and there my fancy was quite captivated by the variety of diversions in which I was continually engaged. Not that the parties were altogether new to me, but because I now found myself considered as a person of consequence, and surrounded by a crowd of admirers, who courted my acquaintance, and fed my vanity with praise and adulation. In short, whether or not I deserved their encomiums, I leave the world to judge; but my person was commended, and my talent in dancing met with universal applause. No wonder, then, that everything appeared joyous to a young creature, who was so void of experience and dissimulation, that she believed everybody’s heart as sincere as her own, and every object such as it appeared to be.  
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